Month: September 2014

More love for the Pacific Northwest

Portland Will Still Be Cool, but Anchorage May Be the Place to Be

On a Warmer Planet, Which Cities Will Be Safest?

Social Security, the tax code that even the employees can’t understand

Retirement Planner: Benefits For Your Spouse

Courtesy WWW.SSA.Gov

If You Or Your Spouse Are Full Retirement Age

If you are full retirement age, you can apply for retirement benefits and then request to have payments suspended. That way, your spouse can receive a spouse’s benefit and you can continue to earndelayed retirement credits until age 70.

           Note: Only one member of a couple can apply for retirement benefits and have payments            
suspended so his or her current spouse can collect benefits.

If your spouse has reached full retirement age and is eligible for a spouse’s benefit and his or her own retirement benefit, he or she has a choice. Your spouse can choose to receive only the spouse’s benefit when he or she applies online and delay receiving retirement benefits until a later date. If retirement benefits are delayed, a higher benefit may be received at a later date based on the effect of delayed retirement credits.

Note: If both you and your spouse are full retirement age, only one of you can choose to receive spouse’s benefits now and delay receiving your own benefits until a later date.

So, easy to understand: Apply for the higher benefit, have the other spouse apply for the “spousal benefit” (generally 50% of the larger number), then suspend the higher benefit and have it increase annually at 8% until age 70.
Works best where income differences have been material.  Two close income amounts, not such a great idea if ages are close. Oh, and you have got to appreciate a simplified explanation with so many hyperlinks. It’s about like reading the Internal Revenue Code.
More fun facts from the SSA:

Calculators: Life Expectancy

When you are considering when to collect retirement benefits, one important factor to take into account is how long you might live.

According to data compiled by the Social Security Administration:

  • A man reaching age 65 today can expect to live, on average, until age 84.3.
  • A woman turning age 65 today can expect to live, on average, until age 86.6.

And those are just averages. About one out of every four 65-year-olds today will live past age 90, and one out of 10 will live past age 95.

So just hang in there until 65 and 3 out of 4 of your golf foursome will drop before you all reach 90. Something to look forward to.

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Horror stories of suffering in the California Drought.

“Gone are the days in California when you could throw water around. This is a desert and people have to realise if we run out of water it’s going to return to desert.”

Pat Nesbitt, who owns a 71-acre estate including a polo field, had his water allocation cut by 90 per cent. If he continued to use water at the same rate he was facing fines of $140,000 in a single month.

“We cut back. We don’t water anything any more,” he said. “The polo field is brown. We are still able to play but it doesn’t play as good.”

What a sacrifice.

A polo field also lies unwatered and, according to locals, some owners of $10 million (£6.2 million) homes are eating off paper plates to avoid using their dishwashers.

Can you even imagine.  I guess it’s bad for the silver spoons to touch the paper.

Super-rich make last stand against California drought

But wherever it comes from the (water) buyers appear to be staving off the inevitable only temporarily, and many millionaires are turning to conservation instead. Miss (Oprah) Winfrey is prominent among them.

“Two months ago she just said, ‘Turn off the water’, and now there’s not a green blade of grass on that lawn,” a resident who has seen her parched garden told the Telegraph.

How considerate of her given the drought started years ago and the Water District implemented even more severe rationing seven months ago.

Oh, and she probably doesn’t spend any time there:

At Miss Winfrey’s second and larger Montecito estate – an $85 million affair called Promised Land – the grass is still green but the water bill has also fallen dramatically.

Now that is a relief.

Some are now adhering to Governor Brown’s call for people to flush the toilet less often. John Braid, 83, said: “I do that. Leave it for a day. You’re just wasting water.”

Finally, I’ve been given an explanation for the stage brown cloud floating above LA when I fly in.

Tom Mosby, general manager of Montecito Water District, said: “People come to us and say ‘We want to build a swimming pool’ and we say ‘No’. If it doesn’t rain next year the state’s going to go dry. We are talking about a disaster movie in the making.”

Not that, not “no” to yet another swimming pool in California, that is a disaster.

And, contravening every attempt to avoid animals being hurt in the making of this disaster movie:

Some residents are said to have painted their lawns green.

According to one story a resident’s poodle turned green after rolling in the paint.

Yes people, I do know it’s a serious issue and do truly hope they get relief soon but, come on, some of this writing is funny.

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Please come to Portland, the land of little sun and few jobs and don’t forget your unicycle.

Photo

CreditIllustration by Kelsey Dake

The criminalization of American business (Yes, you should care and be very worried!)

Aug 30th 2014 | From the print edition The Economist

The formula is simple: find a large company that may (or may not) have done something wrong; threaten its managers with commercial ruin, preferably with criminal charges; force them to use their shareholders’ money to pay an enormous fine to drop the charges in a secret settlement (so nobody can check the details). Then repeat with another large company.

In many cases, the companies deserved some form of punishment: BNP Paribas disgustingly abetted genocide, American banks fleeced customers with toxic investments and BP despoiled the Gulf of Mexico. But justice should not be based on extortion behind closed doors. The increasing criminalisation of corporate behaviour in America is bad for the rule of law and for capitalism (see article).

Since the cases never go to court, precedent is not established, so it is unclear what exactly is illegal. That enables future shakedowns, but hurts the rule of law and imposes enormous costs. Nor is it clear how the regulatory booty is being carved up. Andrew Cuomo, the governor of New York, who is up for re-election, reportedly intervened to increase the state coffers’ share of BNP’s settlement by $1 billion, threatening to wield his powers to withdraw the French bank’s licence to operate on Wall Street. Why a state government should get any share at all of a French firm’s fine for defying the federal government’s foreign policy is not clear.

Prosecutors and regulators should also be required to publish the reasons why, given the gravity of their initial accusations, they did not take the matter all the way to court.

Or how about they at least admit there were no facts to support the original charges?  Oh, and if they lose in court they have some sort of personal loss like those they are over-charging?

The Leader article here.

And the follow up here:

A mammoth guilt trip

Corporate America is finding it ever harder to stay on the right side of the law

“Contrary to the conventional wisdom,” write Margaret Lemos and Max Minzner in an article in January’s Harvard Law Review, “public enforcers often seek large monetary awards for self-interested reasons divorced from the public interest in deterrence. The incentives are strongest when enforcement agencies are permitted to retain all or some of the proceeds of enforcement—an institutional arrangement that is common at the state level and beginning to crop up in federal law.”

So Prosecutors have no down side to over-charging and threatening decades in prison. And then get to decide how to spend the money.  Sure, that seems like a fair and equitable system to me, not.

Let’s find more obscure laws and let the Prosecutors run the country. Who needs an inept Congress (and apparently supportive President?) who aren’t paying attention anyway?

Just saying, if it can happen to JP Morgan Chase what chance do you have if they come after you?  And you don’t have Jamie Dimon’s money to buy your way out, do you?

One final quote for you to think about:

When America was founded, there were only three specified federal crimes—treason, counterfeiting and piracy. Now there are too many to count. In the most recent estimate, in the early 1990s, a law professor reckoned there were perhaps 300,000 regulatory statutes carrying criminal penalties—a number that can only have grown since then.

Hard to believe the constitution omitted so many important things…

Rant over.

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The N.F.L.’s Absurd Marijuana Policy

SEPT. 8, 2014 Courtesy The NY Times The Opinion Pages

Standard pain management in the N.F.L. is pain pills and pregame injections. But not all players favor the pill and needle approach. In my experience, many prefer marijuana. The attitude toward weed in the locker room mirrors the attitude in America at large. It’s not a big deal. Players have been familiar with it since adolescence, and those who use it do so to offset the brutality of the game. The fact that they made it to the N.F.L. at all means that their marijuana use is under control.

 

So I guess the real question is, do we want to watch “legal” drug addicts or “illegal” drug addicts?  I now how big Pharma will vote. 

(more…)

“If you don’t like the 24/7, all-Kardashian all-the-time programming, you gotta stop clicking on the stories about Kim Kardashian’s side boob.”

Now that I have your attention, you understand “clickbait

injunctions not to click have a moral force that – just possibly – suggests something counterintuitive: the spread of ethical compunction across the basest, most sexually commodifying and amoral of all human inventions, the internet. Just possibly.

 

Perhaps we all need to read this and consider where we click our mouse.

Courtesy of:   The Guardian, Tuesday 2 September 2014